Monday, July 2, 2012

Confessions of a Superhero

Directed by Matthew Ogens.
2007. Rated R, 93 minutes.
Christopher "Superman" Dennis
Maxwell "Batman" Allen
Jennifer "Wonder Woman" Wenger
Joseph "The Hulk" McQueen

This documentary follows four people who live in Hollywood and earn their living by dressing up as superheroes and taking pictures with tourists for tips. It's interesting to watch these people who are so full of hope, regardless if it's misplaced or not. They are all aspiring actors, yet only two of them, the Hulk and Wonder Woman (I'll refer to them by their "hero" names cuz it's easier), show any potential whatsoever but not really that much. Therefore, we hope along with them but take pity and maybe even feel disdain for the other two, Superman and Batman. We notice the latter two are also the older two and certainly a less stable pair of individuals.

Superman is completely consumed by his character, wait till you see how much memorabilia he has jammed into his small apartment. That he bears a resemblance to Christopher Reeves only fuels his fire. He also insists that deceased actress Sandy Dennis is not only his mom but begged him to pursue acting from her deathbed. Both of those facts are in question and it's interesting to watch how they play out and impact him. Still, we feel good that he's become the unofficial spokesman of "the characters" as the police refer to the dozens of people who work the strip in Hollywood dressed as various easily recognizable characters from movies and TV.

The next most intriguing story is that of Batman. Fittingly, he's a troubled man with a murky past. He looks a bit like George Clooney, a puffier, greasier version, and harps on that fact. In addition, he's a quick-tempered sociopath and either a compulsive liar or a murderer who once worked for the mob. Yes, he's THAT dude that talks really big about things he's done even while saying he doesn't really want to talk about his past. The question is: Do you believe him? I'll leave it there.

All four of our heroes have, at one time or another, landed bit roles or been extras in movies or on TV. Our task, as the viewer, is to decide whether or not we believe that should be enough fuel to keep them going. Do we have sympathy for them or wish they would just snap out of it? That changes on a case-by-case basis, maybe even scene-by-scene and you may come away with different answers than I. On a sidenote, this was released in 2007. I think it really would've been a darker, even more fascinating but possibly more difficult watch had this been filmed about 6 months later (starting from mid to late 2008). The added element there would be how the economy affected such a profession. Alas, it's still interesting. I think anyone planning to move to Hollywood in hopes of making it big should see this. I don't necessarily think it should discourage them but it can definitely prepare them for the possibilities.

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